Tuesday 18 October 2016

The Last Action.


When the Japanese Emperor had surrendered on 15th August the Senior British Government Official in Stanley Prison Camp in Hong Kong was Franklin Gimson. He had been the Colonial Secretary prior to the war. He went straight to the Commandant of the Camp and told him that he would be taking over the administration of Hong Kong and asked that they be provided with suitable accommodation from which to run the colony. He also demanded that Japanese troops continue to keep order there. The Commandant agreed. By 23rd official word reached Gimson via Hong Kong Guerrilla forces that the UK Government also wanted him to set up a government there. He got the old Chief Justice still in the camp to swear him in. He was therefore Governor of Hong Kong before The BPF arrived in Hong Kong.

On 27th August the Fleet left Subic Bay and now the Task Group 111.2 consisted of aircraft carriers Indomitable and Vengeance, cruisers Euryalus, Swiftsure, Black Prince, and RCN A/A cruiser Prince Robert, destroyers Kempenfelt, Ursa, Quadrant and Whirlwind. There were eight RAN corvettes, Mildura, Castlemaine, Bathurst, Broome, Freemantle, Strahan, Wagga and Stawell.  There was the 8th Submarine Flotilla and depot ship Maidstone. There were several minesweepers of the Australian Navy that were to clear the channels ahead of the main force. When they arrived at a position off the Islands they were also met by the battleship Anson and aircraft carrier Vengeance. The Fleet waited about twelve miles off shore, around Kam Tan Island, for the minesweepers to clear the channels. At this time boats brought out representatives of the Imperial Japanese Army to discuss the peaceful handover of power to the British Fleet.

At 1200 on 30th August 1945 the Fleet assembled and as word had been received of possible suicide attacks by explosive motor boats, all the ships were at Action Station and commenced their passage into Hong Kong Harbour. Some motor boats were spotted crossing the channel and as the entire fleet were in an extremely vulnerable position the Admiral ordered the aircraft from Indomitable and Vengeance to fly off and intercept. The Avenger torpedo bombers and Hellcat fighters bombed and strafed the boats and their base on Lamma Island and most of the boats were destroyed and several Japanese were killed two weeks after the surrender of the Japanese forces.
Dad has a copy of a signal from the Commander of the Task Group 111.2, Rear Admiral Harcourt, at 1510Z on 30th August, stating that;
2.   ‘A large number of suicide boats were observed in Picnic Bay. Three of these were seen to leave the bay and attacked by aircraft with score of one sunk, one beached and one returned to harbour. These boats were then well bombed and most of them are now ashore.

3.  Venerable is remaining at sea for the present and keeping continuous air patrol over Hong Kong.

4.  Japanese appear quite docile and Chinese populace are beginning to handle them rather roughly. Japanese state they have no mail from Japan for six months.

5.  Am meeting Japanese Commander tomorrow to discuss arrangements for maintaining law and order and eventual surrender.

6.  Gimson and Administration Council appear to have the situation well in hand except for the ability to maintain law and order and the shortage of supplies. Japanese are still endeavouring to remove food and other stores but this is being stopped.

7.  This afternoon I visited all the Prisoner of War and Internment camps and also British Hospitals. We received a tumultuous welcome and it was magnificent to see the high state of morale despite the obvious effects of malnutrition. Altogether a most moving afternoon.

8.  Hope to start transference of patients to Hospital Ship Oxfordshire tomorrow.’

The Explosive Motor Boats EMB’s were called Shinyo by the Japanese which meant ‘Sea Quake’. They were suicide boats in essence. The first few were built of steel but in 1944 the shortage of materials meant they were all wooden from then. The Type 1 was an 18m single man boat. They were capable of 23kts, which is not that fast and the speed reduced to 18kts when the warhead was loaded in the bow. The idea was that they directed the boat to the target and either jumped at the last minute or drove it straight in to the target.

Shinyo Type 1 Explosive Motor Boat (EMB).

The Type 5 boat was two man and fitted with twin automobile engines and 13.2 heavy machine guns and RT radio. They were used as command vessels. Both Type 1 and 5 were fitted with two 120mm rockets. These were intended to increase the speed of the boat on the final run in and to give some power if the main engine(s) should fail. Approximately 6200 were constructed. Most were retained for use in the defence of the homeland but of those sent abroad most went to the Philippines and Okinawa. The ‘pilots’ were mainly flying cadets about 17 years old. As the war had progressed there were no aircraft for them to fly so 400 of them were transferred. They were given the choice to train for conventional torpedo boats, special attack boats (Shinyo’s) or to be suicide frogmen. About 150 chose to train for the Shinyo. The official three month course for them started in October/November 1944. The Imperial Japanese Navy hoped that a success rate of 10% was a good target. In effect they did not achieve close to this rate. They claimed a handful of landing craft sunk and damaged and no major assets were lost to them.

Type 5 Shinyo EMB.

On the 30th August Sub Lieutenant Awamura of the 35th Special Attack Shinyo Squadron based on Lamma Island set out from there to the travel to the Imperial Japanese Navy HQ to inform them that all the warheads had been removed form the EMB’s. The only transport available was one of the attack boats, minus it explosives. He was spotted crossing the channel and this sparked the alert. The Sub Lieutenant’s boat was destroyed and the base was put out of action for good.

 Type 1 Shinyo EMB’s in Picnic Bay Lamma Island 1945.

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